Archive for April, 2012

BELTANE!

April 30, 2012

To recap: I had discovered that my gardener Andrew had built a wicker man in Calder Copse which is on my land. He said he was the member of a local coven and they wished to hold an occult ceremony. I reluctantly agreed as long I attended as an official observer to make sure no funny business went on; well, funnier than might be expected anyway. One proviso on their part – the ceremony requires all present  to be starkers. Well, I’ve been a lifelong nudist so that’s no problem –  I might get to see some nice sights, you never know!

What a night! I am suffering this morning, but that may be the half bottle of brandy I drank to recover.

I washed my parts, filled my hip flask & ensured there was film in my camera. Then I popped an extra sleeping pill in the wife’s mug of Berent’s.

About 11pm I could hear noises from the other end of the garden so I went out with Aspinall at my heels to check. Andrew the gardener was there with a torch  & a large backpack. He said everyone was gathering at Calder Copse.

So, clad only in my dressed gown  wellies, I followed him up through the garden towards the copse. It was a chilly night, but thankfully,  a clear sky, so no fear of tripping over a twig or a rutting pagan. I had hoped for rain which might have put them off this nonsense. In which case I would have invited them all in for a nightcap.  Naked, if they so wish, depending on what they all look like.

We reached Calder Copse. The wicker man was lit up like a Xmas tree with rather vulgar fairy lights. I wondered who they planned to put inside. There were only about 5 people there. ‘When will the others arrive?’ I asked Andrew. He looked surprised & said this was the whole coven. The sort of group for whom the phrase ‘motley crew’ was invented. I soon realised it wasn’t going to be like one of the black masses in my books. 

It comprised Pam the hairdresser, that spindly lad from the Esso garage, the Reverend George from St Deirdre’s (who must be 90 at least, and I think was defrocked after an inappropriate cassock-lifting incident…), the circular lass from The Broken Neck who can make the most suggestive remark sound like the Speaking Clock, and that ghastly chiropractor woman from the village who, worryingly, had a goat on a lead. Mavis something, I believe. The woman, not the goat

The goat bleated in contempt at Aspinall. He didn’t care for that very much. I called him to heel. Didn’t want him disembowelling the sacrifice

We all nodded ‘evenings at each other. Discussed the weather. Pam had brought a flask of tea for everybody. I have a hipflask of brandy for me. As we approached midnight, Pam clapped her hands like a school matron and said we should get started. Everyone started to divest their coats, so I slipped off my dressing gown and stood there, naked except for wellies. They all took off their coats –  stood there in white robes! Muggins here was the only one in the buff! Ever the good sport, I guffawed at their joke.

Then events turned odd. The aged Rev wheezed, ‘Burn the unbeliever!’ I looked around to see who they meant. But they were all staring at me. Andrew was opening up a hatch in the Wicker man’s groin. Pam,  the hairdresser, was approaching me, claws outstretched, as was her neck

‘Oh God, Oh Jesus Christ no!’ I laughed.

I realised this was all getting a bit silly – & I was standing there, Johnson akimbo, rather exposed. I looked for my dressing gown, but the goat was eating it. I tried to keep my dignity. ‘Well, I’ll leave you to get on with your little ceremony,’ I said formally and turned to leave, aware that I was flashing my arse at them.

The Reverend, all 90-something years and 7 stone of him, was blocking my way, his rheumy eyes flashing with demonic ardour. I pushed him over. The sound of a snapping hip cracked through the air. ‘Ow!’ he yelled. Served the silly old bugger right. I called Aspinall to heel, but the bloody animal was simultaneously mounting the goat & trying to eat it. It’s not easy to run in wellies, even for a chap in such superb condition as I. The spindly lad – Pam’s son, I think, father unknown, & not all there, still a bedwetter at 17 by all accounts – popped up in front of me. I sneezed & he fell over. I discarded the wellies & hot-footed it back to the Priory. Aspinall overtook me, pursued by the goat.

The wretched goat butted me up the arse.

The momentum from the goat propelled me to the house. I dashed inside locked the door, poured  a large whisky & contemplated ringing the boys in blue. I was worried that I may become a local laughing stock, what with the goat & the thought of me prancing in the buff.

I  peered out of the window. They’d either gone home or decided to burn someone else in the Wicker Man. The goat, one hoped.

May just have a word with the local sergeant later.  Get the frighteners put on. Especially as I’m one of the local JPS! Have to look for a new gardener though. Can’t tolerate staff who try to sacrifice their boss.

Wife snoozed through the whole thing. If she’d been there she may have taken their side. And with her muscles I wouldn’t’ve had a snowball’s…

I now feel more sanguine about the whole affair. One has to cut the locals slack. They’re a simple folk. Somewhat faulty in the chromosome dept. Harmless, really, apart from being murderous.

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Wife No 4 part 4

April 24, 2012

Simone/Kevin screamed, turned, and fled the room. I raced after her – even then I was in peak physical condition – but the only trace of her was the Anouska wig discarded on the steps.

I returned to the party, punched the News of the World photographer senseless (one was allowed to do that in those days and they accepted it as an occupational hazard), threatened the hack with the same (who hastily backed away, they really are all mouth and no trousers) and demanded a very large whisky at the bar.

The guests all wisely avoided me and continued with their carousing – only with freshly added gossip, the wretched vermin.

Wilkins approached me nervously. I ordered him a whisky too which he sipped delicately – no wonder he spawned such a confused creature.

Wilkins then told me that ’Kevin’ had lazy been a shy and sensitive boy, and instead of sending him for boxing lessons and making him join the Boys Brigade, he and his wife had indulged him. Anyway, ‘Kevin’ had run away a couple of years previously and the next time they saw him was in a picture of us in the Daily Express at a film premiere – Take Me High, he thought.

Wilkins showed me a photo of Kevin as a teenage boy. Very pretty really, not much different to what he became. Well, apart from the bum-fluff on his upper lip and the family jewels lurking somewhat to the south.

It was at that point that the reality of it all hit me.

I had been married to a man!

I had shared my bed with a man! A pretty man with knockers and all the requisite waterworks one would expect in a wife, but…  I had been utterly convinced. Not only had Simone seemed a bona fide lass, but she had eradicated all evidence of her Birmingham upbringing as thoroughly as her chest hair. I didn’t know who I admired more; her elocution tutor or her surgeon.

I made a farewell round of my guests – the steely look in my eye daring them to make a reference to what had just happened – then I left the party and made my way home. I hoped I’d find Simone, but she had obviously been there, packed a bag and left.

I have never clapped eyes on her since.

The marriage was obviously not legal so was dissolved pretty quickly. A few phone calls to old school chums and the story was played down in the press – ah those were the days! The lowest of the gutter press had a few sniggers at my expense, but luckily there was a dreadful tragedy soon afterwards with hundreds killed and my humorous marriage was quickly forgotten.

I often think of Simone – every day, truth be told – and wonder where she is. If she still is a she? It doesn’t all grow back, does it?

The irony is that, with the exception of being an ex-man, Simone was the perfect wife. She was glamorous, laughed at my jokes, knew what a fellow wanted in bed, and (although I didn’t know this at the time,) couldn’t get herself in the club.

I hope she’s happy.

PS I kept the Anouska wig. I once asked my next wife to wear it, but ironically, it made her look like a chap in drag

PPS Try as I might I couldn’t persuade ITV not to show our edition of Mr & Mrs. Got the highest ratings ever. 

 

Wife No 4 – part 3

April 21, 2012

It was after we married – on the aeroplane home, actually – that I realised how little I actually knew about Simone. She never mentioned any family or her upbringing. Her accent was cultured but neutral, giving no indication of any region. It demonstrated how besotted I was, as I had never married anyone before without a through background check, even if it was just a quick flick through Debrett’s.

This was compounded by our less than successful appearance on Celebrity Mr & Mrs recorded shortly after we returned from the Caribbean for a Boxing day broadcast. Simone correctly answered all her questions about me (whether I like Y-fronts, combinations or jockey shorts – the first as I firmly believe that one’s knackers should be securely fettered during the day), whilst I scored a shameful nul points. I genuinely didn’t know if she preferred her eggs scrambled or poached or fried.

We decided to have a wedding reception when we arrived back in London. Just a small affair, to celebrate with our many friends. Well, my many friends and Simone’s fellow hairdressers. As I was still writing for TitBits, I thought they might like to do a feature on the party. Nothing gaudy, just a small exclusive for which they would have made a small contribution towards the catering. Anyway, journalists have big bloody mouths, news of my party got around, and some sleazy chap from the News of the World demanded – yes, demanded! – an invite. I refused, not just because the man is a oily little bounder, but because one must have standards.

The party was delightful, a small catered affair at Claridges with a couple of hundred of my best friends including Dickie Wattis, Monty, Johnny Aspinall, Peter Wyngarde, Peter Saunders and Katie Boyle, Enoch Powell, Dickie Davies, bloody Driberg (groping the waiters of course), Frank and Nesta Bough, Johnny de Lorean, the stars of TV’s The Crezz (no, I have no idea either, but their PR chap was my agent’s current trade), HRH Princess Margaret with that season’s nancy boy, Freddie Laker, the Craddocks (yes, the cook and her wide-boy husband) Dickie Mountbatten, Vic Feather, Reg and Lilian Varney, John Bindon (no, not with Princess Margaret, although the pair of them constantly glanced lustfully at each other), half the Tory shadow cabinet, celebrated comics Hope and Keen… oh! The function glittered with that year’s London elite.

 I had hoped the Queen Mother would be in attendance, but she had a pressing engagement elsewhere. Small mercies, in hindsight…

The party was going very well. Drink was flowing, the buffet was being wolfed down (especially by actors who I find are, frankly, revoltingly greedy), and Cy Payne and his Orchestra were doing us proud with their ‘groovy’ takes on television theme music. I had promised Simone I would dance with her when they played Sleepy Shores.

I suddenly spotted the greasy hack from the News of the World. Outraged, I was going to summon Aspinall to help me boot him out, when the oik pushed forward a mousy little middle-aged man.

‘Hello Mr Stirling,’ the rotter said, a nicotine-stained smirk rending his ratty features. ‘may I introduce you to Mr Norman Wilkins?’

I shrugged with indifference. The lower middle classes have never excited me.

The hack curled his lip even more and pushed the dreary man towards me. ‘He’s Simone’s dad!’

This was obviously a shock, but I am an expert poker player and a gentleman so was able to maintain my composure. I held out my hand – after all, the little chap was my father-in-law now.

Wilkins automatically went to take my hand, but the hack pushed it away. To give him his due, Wilkins looked annoyed.

‘Mr Wilkins here,’ the wretched denizen of Grub Street sneered, ‘hasn’t seen his son for several years.’

‘That’s a shame,’ I replied, puzzled, ‘I didn’t even know Simone had a brother.’

At which the scribbler burst into laughter, rather forced, I thought.

‘When we say ‘his son,’ we mean Simone,’ the hack laughed. 

I was dreadfully confused. I looked at Wilkins. He looked downcast, even dare I say it, shame-faced.

By this time we had a crowd encircling us. I could see Wattis’s eyebrows were even more arched than usual, the Craddocks were sniggering in their dreadfully common way, while Driberg was approaching curiously from the cloakroom, doing up his flies. Princess Margaret and Bindon crawled out from under a table to see what the commotion was.

I could sense the party losing its way if I wasn’t careful so I decided that, father-in-law or not, this ghastly pair should be shown the door, when Simone, resplendent in her Zandra Rhodes frock and brand-new Anouska wig (a wedding present from yours truly) pushed through the crowd – and stopped in horror!

‘Daddy!’ she gasped.

To which the ghastly Wilkins replied, ‘Kevin!’

Kevin!

To be continued…

My Wife No 4 – part 2

April 20, 2012

Luckily for me, Simone felt the same way, and our wild affair started almost immediately. We had a drink at the BBC bar after the recording – Paddy staring daggers at me, as did Dick Emery who had been on the panel and obviously fancied his luck too – and soon realised that we were the soulmates for whom each had been looking.

The romance was whirlwind. She was in my electrically-heated water bed that night, and had moved in within the next week. Oh, how we talked, laughed, incessantly made plans and love….

She left her job with Patrick Campbell (and it must be said he never looked so fresh and young on screen from then on as he had previously) and took up her new job… at the end of my arm!

Of course, our love soon became public knowledge. I didn’t mind, what chap doesn’t want to be seen with a gorgeous leggy blonde by his side? Apart from perverts.

Barely a day passed that we weren’t snapped together, at premieres, on beaches, leaving nightclubs. I rather enjoyed it, but I could tell Simone wasn’t entirely comfortable at times. She had to be persuaded by her agent to strip for Penthouse. It was only when I pointed out what an honour it was that she relented. Was I jealous? Not at all. It would be unpatriotic not to allow the nation to see such a magnificent body, and I wasn’t displeased for the men of Great Britain to know she was mine!

So we became the Burton and Taylor of our day, except that we didn’t argue. Ever. Considering the pressures of fame that we were under, it was a remarkably even-tempered relationship. We agreed on everything and she laughed at my jokes – what else could a husband want?

Well, La Vie Dans La Boudoir, obviously! And I had no complaints there. With hindsight I find this remarkable to recall, not to mention slightly nauseating, but our sex life was wonderful, better than it had ever been in any of my previous marriages. Simone seemed to instinctively know what a man liked and wanted – nay, needed – and she could supply it. By the bucket. I had long been a man of the world, but Simone introduced me to all sorts of new techniques and I was her willing pupil. And occasionally her unwilling milkman.

We were still living in sin at this time, after all, it was the 1970s and we were a modern couple. I had been burned 3 times before and my solicitor urged caution. But on a holiday in the Caribbean, making a report for Wish You Were Here, we had an impromptu barefoot marriage on a beach at sunset. It was very romantic (and legally binding as I later discovered).

I had never been so happy in my whole life, not even during the war.

Then the bombshell landed…

 

To be continued…

Wife No 4

April 19, 2012

My fourth wife is an era I sometimes wish I could forget, but thanks to the News of the World it is a story which is out in the public domain so there is no point in denying it.

After  my third wife died, I was rather busy. I wrote seventeen book in 2 years, and there were extra-curricular activities. I presented a documentary series for the BBC about historical villains – Rasputin, Vlad the Impaler, Harold Wilson; I lived in Italy for a while writing horror screenplays for Buitoni – all unproduced, as no-one told me they were being financed by the Vatican, hence my villainous priests and libidinous nuns being rather frowned upon. My weekly column for TitBits was also a long-standing obligation. All this plus the usual public duties of a best-selling author – book tours, chat shows, restaurant reviews etc.

I also dabbled in politics which I probably shouldn’t discuss until everyone else involved is dead.

I also felt I had to spend a bit of time with the children – when they weren’t at boarding school – which was very distracting from the important things.

The old sex life took a back seat somewhat, although I wasn’t completely chaste. I had a very well-reported affair with a Miss Borneo, a court case with an actress from a TV soap set in a motel over an illegitimate child (not guilty – phew! The actual father was a member of the Johnny Pearson Orchestra), plus the occasional brief and anonymous dalliance (when I say anonymous, it’s quite possible they did actually tell me their name at some point in the proceedings).

Then one fateful February evening I was recording an episode of Call My Bluff for the British Bolshevik Corporation. Darling Paddy Campbell always had an entourage with him – bodyguard, manager, reflexologist, and he insisted on using his own make-up artist. And that’s how I met Simone.

Well, that was it, poor old Stirling was nabbed, hook, line and sinker.

Was it love or lust? Is there a difference? She had me by both the heart and the orchestras.

She was beautiful, 23 years old and the most exquisite thing I had ever seen. Tall, long luscious legs, gorgeous flowing blonde locks, a sexy husky voice…

 The last should have been a giveaway. Because, in fact, my delicious Simone had been, only two years previously, a panel-beater from Solihull called Kevin.

To be continued…

Wife No 3

April 13, 2012

After the divorce from my second wife, Marjorie – only slightly less acrimonious than the second world war (and my solicitor was no Churchill) – I swore I wouldn’t marry again. No, the life of a bachelor gay – in the old-fashioned sense of the word – was my role in life, I decided, and that’s how I would remain. It was the swinging sixties, dolly birds were wearing hot pants and on the pill, so the world was my frankly aphrodisiac oyster.

This went on very nicely for a while. I added ‘playboy’ to my list of accomplishments, and life was ticking along very nicely. My books were selling by the truckload, film rights were being optioned left, right and centre, and I was never off the box, holding forth on all manner of topics. I drove an Aston Martin, wore suits from Monsieur Neddy in South Molton Street, ate regularly at sailor beware (the frightfully ‘in’ restaurant owned by Moonquake actor Rupert Houghton’s other half) and drank cocktails at Wynegarde’s in Frith Street.

Then I met Sarah. She was kind, gentle, tolerant of my idiosyncrasies – even seemed to find them endearing – and laughed at my jokes. She wasn’t beautiful, but her smile lit up life. She was a widow with a young daughter, but that didn’t seem to matter. Aleister, all of 6 yrs old, approved of her, so she and I got married. I wanted a big society wedding, she didn’t so we had a small ceremony in a small Wiltshire village called Thayer David. Aleister was my best man. A year later we had a son, Oswald – who so resembles his mother it’s almost unbearable to look at him – and lived very happily for about three years until she became ill and died within a few short weeks.

It was all jolly sad. I was rather upset at the time, I seem to recall, but I threw myself into a book or two. The children were very unhappy, but I was very busy with my writing so I employed a nanny – well, several as the children were not easy to deal with – until it was time for boarding school, and we just got on with things.

I still think about Sarah. Nice woman.

 

Wife No 2…

April 12, 2012

Wife No 2

My second wife Marjorie has just contacted me to say that if I write anything about her on the internet then she will – and I quote – ‘sue the effing arse off me!’

I will take heed. My annual alimony to her is already the equivalent of Ireland’s deficit.

And, poor darling, she needs the money. Such vital cosmetic surgery doesn’t come cheap.

 

 

Wife No 1

April 12, 2012

I have not been lucky in love. That is an understatement, to say the least! Married 5 times and none of them turned out well. Obviously the current marriage is still extant and seems satisfactory to both parties. It’s not the great romance of the century, but I get the house kept quite competently – and she gets a title.

My first wife was called Debbie (can you check that please, Cilla?) and she was a great beauty in her day. We met, as one did in those days at a debs ball, had a whirlwind romance and married within a couple of weeks. Her parents – minor aristocracy, nothing impressive – disapproved. I wasn’t quite the huge literary success I was destined to be, and they didn’t think I would be able to keep their darling daughter in the manner to which she was accustomed. As they lived in the servants’ quarters of a rather dilapidated manor house in Bucks and couldn’t cough up a decent dowry, I don’t think they were in any position to complain. To cut a long story short, we had a glorious honeymoon, carefree, blissfully in love and, frankly, at it like rabbits. She got in the club, gave birth to my darling son Aleister, then went potty. Literally. Off her trolley, round the bend, doo-lally oddsocks. Later research showed there had been a quite a bit of it in her family history. You would have thought her parents would have told me – that would’ve been a damn sight more effective at stopping the wedding than moaning about my lack of prospects.

Some blamed my philandering for her mental state, but, to give me my due, she went barmy first. And when one has the prospect of going home to Mrs Rochester and a screaming child, who can blame me for seeking succour in the arms of another. Well, quite a few anothers. My career was taking off and I was being feted around London – I tell you, totty was flinging itself at me. I rarely even had to buy dinner.

Things got rather heated when she found a pair of lady’s knickers in my suit pocket that weren’t hers, and she went atomic – as we said in those days. She leapt at me, claws outstretched, screeching like a banshee. Once I was on the ground – I didn’t like to fight back as she was a woman – she then attacked me with the lawnmower. Yes, she tried to mow me! Ruined my suit, and very nearly did me a very great mischief to the old meat-&-two-veg. Luckily, as I had discovered in the war, at life-threatening moments anything extraneous retracts inside the body so, with the exception of very evenly trimmed pubic hair, I was personally unblighted.

I was rescued by my chauffeur, Raven, who grabbed the lawnmower off her and flung it into the ornamental pond. She leaped into the water to retrieve it, and he helped me up. We then locked ourselves indoors, called the police, and hid in the cellar while she tried to get in the house by eating the front door.

(Incidentally, Raven is still with me as my chauffeur. He’s 92 and registered blind so I actually drive him, but he’s company in the car.)

Anyway, Plod arrived, sirens a-blazing, and into the nuthatch she went, and there she remains. I don’t visit. It upsets her, and doesn’t do a lot for me. She looks well, funnily enough. They dope her up to the eyebrows which obviously suits her. She crochets, does Sudokus (I have no idea if she inserts the correct numbers), and occasionally visiting drama students sing old-tyme music-hall numbers to her and her fellow crackpots. Our son visits her when he’s in the country, but sometimes she thinks he is me, and tries to murder him.

We divorced on grounds of insanity – hers, obviously – and I contribute to her upkeep which, surprisingly, is cheaper than alimony.